Multiply Your Ad Effectiveness With The Why Factor
Part 4 of the “Sell Lots More” Series.
Marketing Techniques by Larry Mullins
The final article of the “Sell Lots More" series will divulge the game-changing link that ties everything together, the Why? Factor. Previous articles in this series can be found in the marketing management article archives on the furninfo.com website. If you read carefully, you will perceive a grand strategy emerge that is guaranteed to make you more sales and profit.
Why? - The Sixth Factor
There are six factors that have been presented in this series. Each plays an important role in making your advertising media more effective. Yet, none of the other five do much without the Why? Factor. When you talk exclusively about Who? What? When? Where? and How?—they are almost meaningless, because each can be brushed off by your prospect with “So what?”
The prospect wants to know what’s in it for her. Why should she care who you are or what you are selling? This seems obvious once it is pointed out. Yet, you may be surprised to know that, with a few notable exceptions, most furniture marketers leave the Why? Factor almost entirely out of their advertising messages! The Why? Factor is the forgotten factor. And herein lies a big opportunity to lift your messages to higher and higher levels of effectiveness.
Furniture dealers gripe about the cost of flyers, newspaper space, air media, direct mail and so on. Even so, they continue to appeal for more business in expensive advertising media with messages that leave out the reason a prospect should be interested in what they are communicating. They fill costly white space with label headlines and weak copy that is bereft of benefits. They fail to greet guests with their USP (Unique Selling Proposition). They abdicate the responsibility of producing very expensive advertising flyers to technicians who never read a book on advertising.
And the truth is, if they introduced the Why? Factor into their advertising it would instantly double or triple its effectiveness! That’s because the Why? Factor addresses the “What’s in it for me?” element that is ever-present in the prospect’s mind.
The Why? Factor informs the prospect of the benefits your product will provide. And, on another level, there is even more to the Why? Factor. This embraces your STORY. Why are you having a sale? Why reduce prices? Why are you overstocked? Slow sales? New merchandise on the way? An honest reason will resonate much better with your sales staff than either a concocted one or none at all. Be sure to provide your staff with a short script so that they all tell the same story. Make the mantra of your sales consultants: “Always mention style, beauty, quality and fashion whenever you mention price or value.” And finally, provide them with a simple handout to break the ice when they greet their guests.
This article will provide information to help you stand out from a fragmented universe of look- and sound-alike messages, and quickly increase your market share. While competitors are yelling price and trying to hawk sofas, chairs, and room packages, your messages will be dramatically different. You will offer a precious relationship to prospects, one based upon your Unique Selling Proposition. You will be dazzling prospects with your expertise. While competitors are selling price, price, price you will be selling new comfort and beauty for their homes, relationship, and a pleasant, risk-free shopping experience. You will be telling prospects your story and also WHY it is important for them to pay attention to your message. In short, you will inspire trust.
Keep in mind Clyde Bedell’s ultimate premise for good advertising:
“There is only one language of advertising. It is the universal language of the prospect."
“Why should I listen to you? Why should I believe you? What’s in it for me? What will I get out of it?”
The Why? Factor is Your Promise
Make no mistake, this is dynamite. Under-promise and over-deliver. Most of all, Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. My first job in furniture was with Curtis Bros. Furniture in Washington, D.C. Back when this great store dominated retail furniture in America, Charles Curtis hammered a single theme into the minds of each associate: A promise is a promise. This single unit store was located in Southeast Washington, D.C. Thirty-five salespeople worked full time and out-produced every other store in America. Each salesperson had his or her own small desk and personal phone. There was a level of professionalism in that store I have never seen surpassed in the last thirty-plus years of serving furniture entrepreneurs. Every associate at Curtis was trained and retrained, and each knew the key USP: A promise is a promise.
To repeat the maxim of Jay Abraham:
“The clearer and more powerful you are at expressing, articulating, demonstrating and comparing how you will render your USP (unique selling proposition) better than anyone else … the more business you will get.”
Not all Big Box Locations are Equal
Let’s face it, some Big Box franchises grossly underperform. In some cases, Big Boxes do about half the business they should. Yet they manage to pay their franchise fees and eek out a small profit, so they are tolerated. On the other hand, there are a few Big Box stores that have a remarkable entrepreneur in charge and dramatically out-perform the pack. One such store is located in a small Midwest rural market of about 20,000 people and regularly does over $400,000 of very profitable business a month. What is its secret? For one thing, the owner does something I have never seen any other store owner do. He personally calls every customer who makes a purchase in his store.
I discovered this by accident when I walked into his office following store closing. He was on the phone, and gestured me to come into his office. He was just ending the conversation. Then he said, “Larry, I only have two more brief calls to make. Do you mind if I finish up?” His next telephone conversation went something like this: “Hello Mr. Jones, my name is (withheld) and I am the owner of (store name) furniture. I am calling about the recent purchase you made in our store. How did we do? In your opinion, is there anything we can do better?” He listened for a bit and then said: “That’s great, I’m glad you were pleased. Just one more question. On a scale of one to ten, how likely would you be to recommend (store name) to a friend?” After he finished his calls I questioned him about what I had just observed and heard. He informed me that he calls every customer. “Every customer?” I asked. “Yes,” he responded, and he added that if he runs into a problem he solves it pronto. How likely do you think these customers are to return to his store?
Total Selling Marketing is the Only Way to Excel
This gentleman’s store reflects his unique retail philosophy. It is a model of neatness and efficiency. His store manager works with equal passion. He freely gives out his business card to customers with his home phone number and email address on it. He tells each customer he closes: “Please call me at anytime if you encounter a problem with delivery or service.” The entire sales staff models this professional Total Selling attitude.
Most stores spend almost all of their marketing time and resources striving to bring in new business. They go from promotion to promotion in a frenzy to keep sales figures up. But bringing in new customers is only one of three ways to maximize and leverage business. And, promoting for new customers is the least cost-effective way to increase sales and profits, even though most stores use it almost exclusively.
There are Only Three Ways to Increase Sales & Profits:
• Promote, bring in, and sell new customers.
• Sell more stuff to each customer who visits your store.
• Promote to, allure, and sell existing customers more often.
We’ve already discussed the first bullet point above. Selling more stuff to each customer by using incentives and spiffs will be covered in another article. More important for this article is the third method of increasing sales; leveraging existing customers.
Obviously, if you can establish a good relationship with a customer she will be inspired to visit you more often. You do this by exceeding her expectations. Most people are moderately pleased by a post card from a salesperson thanking them for their business. They are more pleased when the salesperson calls them personally to see if the delivery and set up went successfully. Customers are delighted and inspired when the owner of the store calls to check on their sales experience. This is, potentially, the beginning of a precious relationship. These relationships are known as “People Media”, and can be nourished and cultivated through continuous additional contacts using direct mail and email. People media are virtually free, and, statistically, an old customer is eight times as likely to respond to an appeal and buy than a customer who does not know you. The take home message here is to spend more time leveraging existing customers than trying to bring in new customers.
When you understand the value of a customer for life and act on that understanding, you will reach new levels of success.
There is yet another immensely important benefit from acquiring a customer for life and activating new streams of People Media contacts. People talk. On the average, each person knows 200 or so other people. Absolutely nothing equals People Media for generating more sales and profits. Yet People Media are a third person influence, the least understood and appreciated of any advertising media.
Emphasize Benefits, AND Spin Dreams
There is a magic formula for persuading customers. At least, it works like magic. Customers are not interested in sofas, chairs, mattress sets, washers, or new carpet. These things are means to an end. Most women dream of a more beautiful, comfortable, efficient home, better health, more luxurious floors, etc. There is a sales approach you can use that takes into account these important dreams. Nearly every salesperson knows that you should never point out a product feature without relating it to a benefit. If you say, “This mattress has 870 tempered springs in it,” the customer will think, “So what?” The benefit is that ,“It will cradle your body in perfect comfort.” If you add that ,“This mattress is also lavished with layers of foam and padding,” your customer will think, “So what?” The benefit is that “there are fewer pressure points to interfere with maximum comfort and you will sleep better.” The trick is to link product features with benefits before the prospect says (or thinks) “So what?”
So far, so good. Supporting benefits with product features make them credible. But we need to take the Why? Factor to another level by addressing “The Dream”. As product features support benefits, benefits support dreams. You might address the dream by pointing out that, “Experts tell us that when you sleep better you feel better, you have fewer aches and pains, you have more energy, you greet the dawn energized, refreshed, and ready for anything.” The power of the Why? Factor cannot be over-emphasized. Only one salesperson in ten has mastered this higher level of psychological appeal. Teach it and you will increase your close ratio.
Putting It All Together
Let’s take a final look at the formula for creating powerful, cost-effective advertising. To recap, the formula is designed for the information age. People want information, they ignore hype. And they want information fast. The “WHO? WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? HOW? and WHY?” method is very much like journalism 101.
1. WHO? More than just a sig or logo, your identity includes your years in business, your expertise, your USP, your website, your photo, your story, anything you can think of to help your customer appreciate why they should give you a chance for their business.
2. WHAT? You need to do more than announce that you sell home furnishings, or that you have a special event going on. What is the story behind the event? How big are the discounts you are offering? Can you give examples samples of the values? What brands do you carry? What does your store look like? What does your showroom look like? What can you show that your competitors cannot?
3. WHEN? Time durations for the event are important, of course, Provide days, dates and hours.
4. WHERE? Give your address of course. A map is important, as is a locator phrase.
5. HOW? Relating credit information is important.
6. WHY? This is the important ingredient that makes all the others work. Check the exhibits in this article, and note how Many Big Boxes fail to link product points with benefits. They also fail to address the dreams of the female consumers who buy home furnishings. Corporate flyers and direct mail pieces rarely make as effective a personal connection with the reader as you can.
People Media That Will Make You Rich
Promise reasonably but with passion, and over-deliver. Follow-up relentlessly. When you follow up you will be creating relationships, customers for life. The Why? Factor is nothing more nor less than establishing high expectations. Total Selling helps you to exceed them. As the CEO of a retail furniture company, the quality of the messages you communicate to your prospects through media and personal encounters are critical. Likewise, so are the messages you communicate to your associates, executives, managers, and vendors. And also the messages that your staff communicate to each other—and the messages that your company, as a whole, communicates to your guests. These messages reflect not simply your promises, but how well you kept them. Some intellectual giant once came up with a saying: The medium IS the message. In the case of PEOPLE, this is a truth. People communicating with other people ... telling others how good you fulfilled your promises, and WHY they should buy from you.
Larry Mullins is a contributing editor for Furniture World and has 30+ years experience on the front lines of furniture marketing. Larry’s mainstream executive experience, his creative work with promotion specialists, and mastery of advertising principles have established him as one of the foremost experts in furniture marketing. His turnkey High-Impact programs produce legendary results for everything from cash raising events to profitable exit strategies.
His newest books, THE METAVALUES BREAKTHROUGH and IMMATURE PEOPLE WITH POWER … How to Handle Them have recently been released by Morgan James Publishing. Joe Girard, “The World’s Greatest Salesman” said of this book: “If I had read Larry Mullins’ book when I started out, I would have reached the top much sooner than I did.”
Larry is founder and CEO of UltraSales, Inc. and can be reached directly at 904.794.9212. See more articles by Larry at www.furninfo.com or www.ultrasales.com.